Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke dances like no one looks – and it's a beauty to behold


Thom Yorke on the opening night of his Tomorrow & # 39; s Modern Boxes Tour at the Franklin Music Hall in Philadelphia. (Owen Sweeney / Invision / AP)

Thom Yorke, frontman of Radiohead, rock alternative legend, notorious free spirit with the band's platinum self-productions and a moxie go-its-own-way, deserves a new title: the guitar's hero world of dance.

If ever there was a rock star to assert the power and the need to dance, to bring it back to the realm of vital human expression, it is Yorke. I saw her recently at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, one of the stops on her current national tour, where she danced all night. He also played some music – the songs from his solo albums "The Eraser" and "Tomorrow & # 39; s Modern Boxes", as well as a song from his side "Atoms for Peace" and from the soundtrack that he wrote for the horror film "Suspiria".

Yorke's music is invariably beautiful and richly layered in electronic rhythms, poetic texts and his shrill, plaintive voice. But my eyes went on how the fifty-year-old Englishman got lost in a world of sensuality on stage, as he physically transferred, through his body, the immersive energy of his music. And how did the audience advance in anticipation of its next unexpected blow or its liquid roller of his hips or his jittery and bouncy way of crossing the stage.

Even sitting at the keyboard (which he rarely did), Yorke kept dancing, rolling his shoulders and swaying with a smooth, watery quality.

There is no confusion in Yorke's obvious love for dance with other mainstream musicians who have been dancing part of their live shows and music videos, such as Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and etc.

These artists incorporate dance in a conventional way, working choreographies in their concerts with reserve dancers or their incisive, often aggressive and highly practiced moves. Dance is another strong or showy element of their show. Yorke's approach is different.

There is nothing forced or deliberately pleasing to the crowd for his movement. Not everyone has appreciated it. Yorke turned to ballet choreographer Wayne McGregor to help create the moves for his video "Lotus Flower", from the Radiohead album "The King of Limbs" (it's a picture of intelligent dance), in which he performed sinuous and sinuous gestures, staggering and shaking if possessed. It was one of the most viewed music videos of 2011. It was also widely parodied, and even some fans said they were bewildered by such an outspoken expression of strangeness.

If Yorke's music is seen as cerebral, his moves are decidedly anti-intellectual.

This is the beauty of them. You can not be moved by his dance; it is so raw, personal and apparently spontaneous. Even if you think it's a little strange – and you're not alone – you can also appreciate how much you become. It is clearly Yorke-ish: subtle, lyrical, emanating from the deep wells of feeling. Yorke speaks through his dances, just as he does with his lyrics, his guitar and his piano, and the flight under the water of his voice.

The affection of Yorke for dance has also taken on other forms. Throughout his career, he brought his music directly into the heart of the dance world. He collaborated with the modern dance legend Merce Cunningham in a dance work called "Split Sides", in 2003, with Radiohead performing as a pit band.

Perhaps it was the theme of dance that attracted him to "Suspiria". The film focuses on a German dance company secretly run by witches. She starred in Tilda Swinton, her hair twisted along her back, without makeup, as a convincing double for the last, influential German choreographer Pina Bausch.

And on his current tour, Yorke proclaims his love of dance – his own need dance – even stronger.

At the Kennedy Center, Yorke quickly raised the audience from their red velvet seats and stood up to join him in what became an evening ball. He was constantly on the move, swaying and lively throughout his two-hour set. Without words, simply with the example, he invited the participation.

Yorke's body follows the movement of his voice, in songs like "Black Swan" (a title reminiscent of the sexy anti-hero of the "Swan Lake" ballet) and "Interference", with their ethereally fluctuating, sweet and dreamy voice. His delicate but insistently moving presence contrasted with the relative immobility of his two collaborators: Nigel Godrich, the producer of Radiohead who provided the electronic accompaniment, and Tarik Barri, who gloriously contributed to the visual projections. They shared the stage with Yorke, but mostly they kept their heads down, absorbed in their computers.

At one point, Yorke, with a black T-shirt and trousers rolled up to show off his big white sneakers, slid his catchy feet back into an upside down cha-cha. He raised his arms as he circled his hips to focus on the center of his meditative section. His belt buckle caught the light. He played bongos of air, he was swinging his hips.

Dancing is simply what he does when he sings; it's probably what he does in his kitchen and in the recording studio.

But one of the only songs that Yorke did not dance was, ironically, a waltz, the melancholy and mysterious song "Suspirium", which Yorke wrote for "Suspiria". It was his last encore.

"This is a waltz / Think of our bodies / What they mean / for our salvation", Yorke sang as he played the keyboard.

And after recognizing the applause and greeting the balconies, Yorke bowed to his audience with the grace and ease of a prince.


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